By Linda Collins
Fairborn Daily Herald
ENON — The Enon/Mad River Township Fire and EMS Department opened its bay doors Friday morning, Oct. 14 to Enon Primary School kindergarten and first-grade students who learned the importance of checking smoke detectors and establishing escape routes in case of fire.
The young scholars divided into groups and took a grand tour of the fire and EMS station, with firefighters Ben Beair, John Heath, Nick Thornton, Mike Gardone and Chase Black. The students’ visit to the firehouse concluded a number of hangs-on activities in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Week, which was held between Oct. 9 and Oct. 15.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) established Fire Prevention Week in 1922 to remember the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that began on Oct. 8. The NFPA has since sponsored the fire prevention campaign each year during the month of October to emphasize the importance of fire safety and inspire individuals to take action to prevent fires and save lives.
Beair said the theme of the 2016 campaign: “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years,” will help educate the public about the importance of replacing smoke alarms in their homes at least every 10 years, and to determine the age of smoke alarms by checking the manufacturing date on the back of the alarms.
“We want to educate the students about basic but essential elements of smoke alarm safety, as well as other fire prevention techniques, so they can share this information with their parents,” Beair said.
The firefighters passed out packets of fire prevention materials to the students and tailored their fire safety messages for the young groups.
“The firefighters always do a wonderful job teaching the students on an elementary level, and they are really great with the kids,” said Enon Primary Kindergarten Teacher Jody Lambert.
The kindergarteners and first graders got a close-up look at the firefighters’ gear, a medic unit and a ladder truck. The students also had the opportunity to spray water using the hug fire hose, and several students handled the “jaws of life.”
Kindergartener Lily Alexander said she really enjoyed spraying the fire hose, and first grader Isis Brookins said she particularly liked the 77-foot-high ladder that peered above the ladder truck. Kindergartener Jack Tuttle and first graders Adam Butler and Xavier Zeunen were all in awe of how heavy the two “jaws of life” were.
“We appreciate the fire and EMS department for taking time with the students each year and teaching them the basic fire prevention principles,” said First Grade Teacher Angela Pyle. “The trip to the firehouse is always a nice way to end Fire Prevention Week.”
This month, the teachers have used a variety of resources to teach their kindergarten and first-grade students about fire safety and prevention and prepare them for certain emergencies.
“We like to visit the firehouse each year to reinforce what the students have learned throughout the month, such as certain vocabulary words related to fire prevention. It also provides the opportunity for the students to meet and interact with those firefighters who help keep them safe,” said First Grade Teacher Lisa Marshall.
The five firefighters expressed their pleasure in hosting the student tours each year and providing vital fire-prevention information to the public.
“We really enjoy it, and this gives us a chance to show the students what we do,” Thornton said. “It is also a way to recruit future firefighters too.”
The fire association is currently reaching out to the community and providing one combined smoke and CO detector per household while supplies last. Residents living in Mad River Township only are invited to come by the fire and EMS station from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings and pick up a detector.
“We are also going to stock our fire trucks with several smoke and CO detectors to give to residents as well,” Gardone said.
The local firefighters are spending time this week visiting other schools, daycares, and preschools. Preschoolers also visited the firehouse the first week in October.
For more information on Fire Prevention Week, visit the National Fire Protection Association’s website at www.nfpa.org.